A leap, fifty years later . . .
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Before I share with you my connection with this congregation, let me first give you a brief glimpse of my background. I was born in South America. Ecuador was 80% Catholic, I would guess, at the time my family emigrated to the US in 1946. My father was educated at a Jesuit school, my mother at a German Catholic School, my siblings and I also attended a German Catholic School. As you could gather, I could not be any more Catholic than that!!
So that, when Frank, my husband of ten years, he himself a Catholic from Brooklyn, (no less) comes to me one day and tells me he would like to become a Unitarian, I was shocked, to say the least!!! It was through an adult student of his, at the evening division of Russell Sage College, where he was teaching, who happened to be a member of this congregation, and who spoke very highly of the beliefs and programs being offered here, that Frank became very interested in learning more about it.
He started attending the services, while I continue to attend my own church with our four children, I was not about to leave the religion I was so devoted to, and to convert to a different one. Unheard of!!!!! Frank would come home after the services, and excitedly relate to me what went on during and after such sermons and activities, all fired up with the Unitarian ways: no sins to atone for, no dogmas and much more.
What impressed us most about this new way, was their acceptance and respect for each individual, regardless of race, religious beliefs or social status. The solidarity to work for those in need, sharing their knowledge with third world countries, either in times of natural disasters, or medical emergencies. Pretty soon I was convinced, and we both began attending with our kids.
Our four children fitted into it very readily. They loved their teachers, their classmates, the activities they offered, the arts and crafts, the outings, the first- hand experiences they had when visiting other denominations. As adults, three of them became Unitarians, and are active members of their area congregations, one remained Catholic as she married a Catholic.
Frank jumped right into it, offering small group gatherings dealing with psychological topics at the time of the hippie culture; they were well received. He also spoke at the podium when asked. I joined the Visual Arts and the Performing Arts committees. I felt right at home. I also assisted with the youngsters with arts and crafts projects and dancing. Frank and I gave some dance lessons, as part of the yearly fund raising for a specific cause or project.
After a couple of years in the Visual Arts, while Rudy Nemser was the minister, his wife Penny who was also a member of this committee, coaxed me to preside over the group. I say coaxed me, because I had always been a follower, like in dance, never a leader, but she prodded me and I accepted. It was a great experience.
It was during this time that I was instrumental in having the Board of this society commission member and sculptor, Bob Blood, to create a piece to adorn our gardens. Sketches went back and forth, until we as a group decided on the one standing in the back garden. ‘Sanctuary’ he called it, very appropriately named.
Funds available would not cover the cost of such a project, but Frank and I offered to help by giving folk dance lessons over a period of time, recruiting members who were willing to chip into the effort, and somehow, Bob received his fee, with the help of many others.
These were the salient points that led us to become members of this congregation. In all, a very warm, caring, and well informed generous community. And here I am 50 some years later, happy to have taken such a leap. Of course, had it not been for my hubby Frank who nudged me, I might not have been. Thank you for listening to my short story. Have a joyous day!!!!